CUC eNews: November 10, 2020 – Issue 124

In This Issue:

Letter From VydaVyda Ng

Faith is building on what you know is here so you can reach what you know is there.
~ Cullen Hightower

On the morning after the US election when I was musing on this letter, the outcome was not yet known. There was anticipation and anxiety and I felt an odd sense of both resignation and hope. It strikes me that this is exactly where faith resides. It is faith that helps us find each other in difficult times, it’s faith that helps us move forward, and it’s faith that helps us create the world we want to live in and pass on. 

This weekend we will gather together to share our faith. Our first National Fall Gathering is an opportunity to build the world we want to see. Our presenters invite us to create new connections, new awareness, even new dreams as we talk about the way we want to be together in the world. Please consider joining us. The registration deadline is tonight at midnight, local time. Our “Sustaining our Light” Sunday service is open to all through Zoom or our YouTube channel

We also share our faith through our commitment to one another. Each fall the CUC launches a fundraising campaign to help directly support the ongoing work of the CUC. Funds we receive through this campaign, and through our Annual Program Contributions (APC) go towards CUC operation expenses, programs and awards. Congregations will receive their APC letters this week and there is more information about how members can donate to the CUC on our website. We recognize that this year has been challenging in many ways, for our health, our spirits and, for many, financially. If you are able, please consider contributing to support the CUC’s work. 

The acts of asking, of giving, and of receiving are acts of faith in one another, that we can share our gifts with the understanding that they will be used to sustain our communities and our light. 

Be well friends,

National Fall Gathering Happens This Weekend

Come join us on Nov 13-15!  Our National Fall Gathering promises to be an excellent opportunity to spend the weekend in the company of friends and UUs from across the country. There is a full slate of interesting and engaging workshops, discussions, and social gatherings, all capped off with a Sunday worship service. 

On Friday join our Regional Gatherings. Saturday’s events include a morning worship service, workshops on everything from Dismantling Racism to Peer Pastoral Care to Resilient Leadership. There is also programming for children and parents, a discussion with our Board and a social Coffeehouse. 

Our Sustaining our Light Sunday service will be filled with music and reflections as we explore why we need each other and the value of community in these challenging times. Join the service on Zoom or view on the CUC’s YouTube channel

Registration for the Gathering closes at midnight local time. Don’t hesitate. Registration information and full descriptions of all the programmed events are available on our website.

Planning for the 2021 National Conference

Photo: Vincent Gui

As in previous years, the spring National Conference will offer something for everyone. There will be a full slate of events and workshops to draw us all together, to celebrate our faith and to build our connections with one another. The theme for the 2021 National Conference will be Sustaining Our Light, building on the same theme introduced for the National Fall Gathering. Registration for the event will open in February. 

As part of our process, we are putting out a Call for Proposals to offer a session for the conference. The proposals are due by November 30. Support will be available to help with the technical aspects of the presentation and we plan to offer training and networking opportunities to share ideas and best practices for virtual conference presentations.

We are also building a team to help plan and run the conference. If you are able to volunteer your time and talents please fill our volunteer form.

Dismantling Racism Study Group Issues Report on Survey

Photo: Priscilla Gyamfi

Earlier this year the Dismantling Racism Study Group asked Canadian UUs to share their perspectives and experiences with racism in our congregations. After the events of the summer, interest in completing the survey surged and 831 UUs completed the survey. 

The study group has been hard at work sifting through the responses and have issued a preliminary report of the results.  Beverly Horton and Rev. Julie Stoneberg, co-chairs, point out that this first report simply outlines the responses without interpretation. The next phase of the work will include following up with the more than 150 respondents who offered to tell their stories, and then to begin the work of interpreting the results.

“We want to offer our deepest gratitude for the number of people who responded to this survey. This summer saw widespread uprisings in the US and Canada calling for an end to systemic racism and state-sponsored violence. These  events sharply focused the world’s attention on issues of racial injustice, and we saw a significant number of additional survey responses. These additional responses enrich our work, although it has also meant that this initial stage took much longer than anyone anticipated”, says Rev. Julie Stoneberg. “It’s wonderful to be doing this work with the dedicated and talented folks who make up the study group.”

“We are issuing this report along with an invitation for folks to take a look at the report, do some wondering about it, and some thinking about what it calls us all to do”, says Beverly Horton. “Our group will be thoughtful and mindful in our approach to interpreting the survey data. As we move beyond this survey-related phase of our work and on to exploring possible action plans that will engage Canadian Unitarians and Universalists in serious anti-racist work, we will do so centering the voices and lived experiences of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour.”

The Study Group plans to release their next report to congregations at our National Conference in May. For more information about the Study Group and its work please visit our website. And if you would like to share a personal story of your experience of racism, the Study Group would like to hear from you. You can contact them at

For those who are interested in more conversation around issues of racism and inclusion please watch for upcoming CUC events. A number of roundtables, workshops and discussions are planned, including an event for Youth and Young Adults of colour, workshops at our National Gathering and other events in the new year.

US Election draws to a close

Vice President Elect Kamala Harris walks beside a silhouette of a young Ruby Bridges on her way to school

image by Artist Bria Goeller

As friends and neighbours with deep UU connections in the United States, this election has been heart wrenching for Canadian UUs to watch. Many Canadian UUs, including a number of the ministers in the Canadian congregations are American expats and we know that the worry, the concern and the anxiety around this election has been amplified as they have watched the turmoil south of the border. It is our deepest hope that the new administration will uphold our UU principles of justice, inherent worth and dignity of all, and a respect for the democratic process.

The CUC wants to acknowledge the outstanding efforts made to encourage all Americans to vote, including the work of our own CUC ministers and congregants, and our UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association) and UUtheVote colleagues. We are grateful for their persistence, their commitment and their deeply held convictions about the importance of participative democracy.

We lend our voices to the chorus of those calling for peace, calm and understanding during the upcoming transition period. We also recognize the immense hope that the election of the first Black, Asian female Vice President represents for People of Colour and those who wish to be allies, and we celebrate this milestone.

“We want all our American friends, whether they live here in our Canadian communities, abroad, or in the United States to know that we are with you at this time of transition,” says Vyda Ng, CUC’s Executive Director. “We continue our commitment to working within our own communities, and with our neighbours, to create an inclusive, progressive and sustainable future for all.”

Minister Profile: Rev. Lynn Harrison

portrait of Lynn HarrisonRev. Lynn Harrison has served as the associate minister at the First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto since 2016. Her path to ministry started with the realization in midlife that she was looking for a different career, at a time when she was involved as a volunteer at Toronto’s Neighbourhood Congregation. She decided she wanted to learn more about spiritual care, and the congregation’s minister encouraged her to consider ministry herself as a means of fulfilling this.

Lynn appreciates the many different opportunities that ministry offers, including pastoral care work, crafting sermons using inspiration from a variety of sources, and offering music to the congregation, something she enjoys the chance to do as a longtime singer-songwriter. She also feels privileged to be serving a congregation during a time of historical significance.

The transition to online worship during the pandemic has been a big change, one for which Lynn has drawn on her experience as a former broadcast journalist but finds there’s still much to learn.

“I think we’re all learning,” she says. “Learning to feel connected, foster connection at a distance, because we still have to create that genuine, authentic connection between people, whether we’re facilitating a group or whether we’re speaking with someone about their life and we need to create that connection even though we’re not in person with one another.”

Lynn recently recorded a song, “Love Letter to the USA”, reflecting on her experience as an American living in Canada and the importance of casting her vote in the US election. She hopes it resonates with others in the same situation.

“I feel really grateful that I was able to do something, to offer something which would encourage people in Canada who could vote in the American election to actually do that,” she says, “maybe tap into some of the emotions behind that and some of the deeper feelings of meaning and identity that are there for people who have dual citizenship.”

Raising funds to support our work.

young woman in a fur rimmed parka hood, holding a sparkler

Photo by Kaylee Eden on Unsplash

This past year has challenged us, our families and communities in ways we could not have imagined. Through it all, it has been our connections which have sustained us and helped us move forward. In the same way, it has been our CUC connections which have made all the difference this year to so many. Thanks to donations we have received from previous fundraising campaigns the CUC has been able to maintain and expand our support of our congregations, our programs and our social justice work, to meet the growing needs in our communities. In fact, the Sustaining Our Light theme for our National Fall Gathering and upcoming National Conference was sparked by the gratitude for your generosity and commitment to each other. 

Through your generosity we have been able to continue our important work with refugees, launch Black Lives Matter and anti-racism programming, maintain a robust pastoral care team for our youth and young adults, and create new programming to help congregations navigate a new online reality. It is the donations we receive from individuals, and the contributions from congregations that support our work of growing vital Unitarian Universalist congregations and responding to the needs of our congregations. 

We are asking you to consider supporting the CUC directly by donating to the Friends of the CUC campaign. This year will be challenging for many in our congregations and we expect that our overall donations may decline just when our communities need us the most. Your generous support will help us continue to offer meaningful programming and resources and to Sustain our Light as we work to create the world we all want to live in.  Please watch for more information about our campaign in the coming weeks. 

Lay Chaplaincy Training Moves Online

The Lay Chaplaincy program is offering a full slate of online learning opportunities this year. Those interested in learning more about the process of becoming a Lay Chaplain can take part in one of three Q&A sessions with a Lay Chaplaincy trainer. The next one happens November 26 with others taking place on February 18 and May 27, 2021.

The Designing Rites of Passage program, the foundation for Lay Chaplaincy training is now available online. To become a Lay Chaplain, candidates must first complete the Self Study Guide and pass the accompanying quiz.

The second phase of the mandatory training is the completion of a series of workshops offered online for this year. The six 90 minute sessions will take place from April 9- 11, 2021 over Zoom, at a cost of $125 (sliding scale available) Registration will open in 2021.

Additional training opportunities are also being added for current Lay Chaplains.  Watch for more details in the Upcoming Events announcements and on the CUC events webpage.

Ceremonies at the End of Life: An Enrichment Module for Continuing Lay Chaplains, Ministers and Ministerial Students focusing on MAiD, family-led and home funerals, and online memorials.
January 16, 2021, 2 x 90-minute sessions over 1 day
Cost: $75 (sliding scale available)

Self-Care for Lay Chaplains – Enrichment module for Continuing Lay Chaplains.
February 11, 2021 – 1 x 90 minute session
Cost: $25 (sliding scale available)

Congregations and fellowships will receive a survey about future enrichment topics with their Fee Assessment letters in December. Please be sure to fill in the survey and return it to help the National CUC Lay Chaplaincy Committee develop interesting and relevant content for your lay chaplains.

Youth Con Leaves Lasting Impressionblack cat against orange sky

On Saturday, October 2, the annual fall Youth Con was held, this time online! It was put together by a staff team of highly involved and experienced youth (including us, the two Youth Observers to the Board of Trustees). We as a staff team decided that we would theme the event around Halloween, and we called our event HalloUUween Con (UU youth have a habit of throwing “UU” in words). It was focused around Halloween traditions, history, and the themes of Halloween, particularly fear, which connects to the uncertainty that youth are feeling about our world. 

We had a dance party, fun games and activities, and meaningful discussions in small groups called Chalice Circles. We (the YOBs) were the worship coordinators, and we focused on the themes of fear and uncertainty, and read the story “In Which Piglet is Entirely Surrounded by Water”, which proves very relevant in today’s current situation. It was a really fun and spiritually engaging day that brought a lot of people together, and planted the seeds for a new youth community

We saw a lot of con “nUUbies” (or people new to youth con), which is a really good sign for a thriving youth community post-COVID. We had a little presentation about the CUC, the board, and what we do as YOBs, informing the emerging youth of the work we do. The staff team was able to bring the new con-goers the spirit and energy of con, creating a loving space for everyone to thrive. People were really engaged and conversation was natural and fluid even over Zoom. The staff team was able to bridge the virtual gap and effectively bring people together, even over such a short period of time. 

The day went by really fast thanks to all the participation and programming that made this event so much fun! We’re looking forward to being back in person, but for now the Canadian UU youth community has adapted to the times and is able to become and stay connected throughout the pandemic. 

Thanks to Fiona Butler and Linnea Granberg for this story.

THR Challenge Grant Updatetruth healing and reconciliation logo

Thanks to our many generous donors, our campaign to raise $3000 to receive matching funds for the CUC’s Truth, Healing and Reconciliation initiative was a great success. We raised a total of over $4500, far surpassing the required amount. 

Although the challenge grant fundraising is over, our dedicated team’s work on the THR initiative is very much ongoing. The funds raised will help support projects such as the Reconciliation Through Film Series, the next installments of which will take place in February and April 2021. Participants have already testified to the great impact this series has had on them, and we look forward to continuing these important opportunities to connect and engage.

Once again, our sincere appreciation to everyone who contributed — your support of this vital work is invaluable.

What’s Making Us Smile

It’s widely known that border collies are among the smartest dog breeds. But did anyone think they could — with some help from their owners — herd a group of sheep into the shape of…a sheep? This footage from Wales shows they can do all that and more.

Watch the video on Youtube!

Upcoming Events (online via Zoom)

Share what’s going on in your congregation. Contact

Featured Events

CUC National Gathering, November 13 – 15

CUC Virtual Regional Gatherings – Friday, November 13
British Columbia: 7:00-8:30 pm PT
Western (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Thunder Bay, ON): 7:00-8:30 pm CT / 6:00-7:30 pm MT
Central (Ontario, except for Kingston, Ottawa and Quebec): 7:00-8:30 pm ET
Eastern (Kingston, Ottawa, Quebec, Atlantic provinces) 7:00-8:30 pm AT

CUC National Gathering – Saturday, November 14
9:00 a.m PT | 10:00 am MT  | 11:00 am CT  | 12:00 pm ET  | 1:00 pm AT

National Service: “Sustaining Our Light” – Sunday, November 15
10 am PT, 11:00 am MT | 12:00 pm CT | 1:00 pm ET | 2:00 pm AT

Lay Chaplaincy Question and Answer Session – Thursday, November 26, 9:00 am PT | 10:00 am MT  | 11:00 am CT | 12:00 pm ET  | 1:00 pm AT
Please join with members of the National Lay Chaplaincy Committee for an informal information session.
More information

Black Lives Matter Round Table Series “And My Heart Starts Pounding”: Undoing systemic racism – find, notice, listen, show up fully, love — and repeat  Wednesday, December 2, 4:00 pm PT  | 5:00 pm MT  | 6:00 pm CT  | 7:00 pm ET  | 8:00 pm AT
More information

How Shall We Gather? Hybrid In-Person & Zoom Gatherings, Saturday, December 5, 2020, 10 am PT| 11 am MT| Noon CT| 1 pm ET| 2 pm AT| ( 3 hours)
More information 

Regular Online Events

Gathered Here: Young Adult Check-In
November 9 – 8 p.m. ET
December 10 – 2 p.m. ET
More information

Connect and Deepen – Virtual Gathering, Sunday, November 22, December 6 & 20,  1 p.m. PT |2 p.m. MT| 3 p.m. CT| 4 p.m. ET| 5 p.m. AT
More information

Leaders Roundtable, Saturday, November 28, 9:00 a.m. PT | 10:00 a.m. MT | 11:00 a.m. CT | 12:00 p.m. ET | 1:00 p.m. AT
More information